Zach Kerzee, in plaid shirt, founder of Simple Church, led a prayer on Thursday during a weekly dinner in Grafton, Mass. Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times
SEPT. 4, 2015 MINNEAPOLIS — Growing up in nearby Eden Prairie, Minn., Tyler Sit felt called to be a minister. But he was not sure what kind.
“I was a cradle Methodist,” said Mr. Sit, 26, who is half-Chinese, half-European and all-Minnesotan: sweet, smiley and Protestant. “I went to church camp, did Sunday school, was youth-group leader, was in the choir, sat on worship committees.”
So Mr. Sit went searching. “I spent a lot of time with Buddhists in Zen circles, studied in India, did a mindfulness retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh,” Mr. Sit said, in a conversation that began in the May Day Café and wandered several blocks to his apartment. Then, in May 2014, visiting the Taizé Christian spiritual community in France, he decided to return to his roots.
“I realized that Christianity has within itself a deep internal religion, and also a deep ethic of social justice,” Mr. Sit said. “I don’t need to outsource to Buddhism.”
After graduating from the Candler School of Theology, at Emory University in Atlanta, Mr. Sit came home to start a church unlike most other Methodist churches. When he conceived New City Church, Mr. Sit was inspired not only by Jesus but also by diverse elements of contemporary environmentalism, from the fair-trade movement to the writings of the climate-change activist Bill McKibben.